Well-constructed and flexible, the Kyanite Hoody is a great mid-layer option for skiers who want extra comfort in their clothing setup.
- Where to buy: REI, Amazon, EVO
- Best for: Skiers who want some extra insulation underneath their outer layers. A great choice for both light and tough environments.
- Pros: This jacket is well insulated and incredibly comfortable. It’s also soft and will stay that way for some time. That makes it a perfect mid-layer. It’s also extremely flexible and gives full range of motion.
- Cons: This doesn’t have great weather resistance. The fabric gets soaked easily and doesn’t have the strength to stop the wind. It’s not the most breathable option, either.
- Alternatives: Atom LT, Steens Mountain 2.0, Refuge Air Hooded Jacket
Why Trust Me
I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I spent ample time researching this hoody by looking at its traits and analyzing how it performed in a range of conditions.
The Kyanite is a wonderful fleece option that’s perfect as a mid or base layer. The layer has a nice fit, comes with a few useful features, and is incredibly comfortable. It also offers decent warmth, which any skier will find useful. While it struggles in certain areas, especially when it comes to ventilation, it’s hard to find a better lightweight fleece for the slopes.
Warm and Soft
Warmth is an extremely important part of any jacket design, and it’s one area where the Kyanite does a decent job. I would never expect top-level warmth for a mid-layer, but the Polartec Power Stretch Pro Fleece does a great job of insulating your body. You get a truly warm shell that protects your skin, even when things get particularly chilly.
This jacket also feels soft and pleasant right against your skin. That, combined with the insulation, makes it excellent for colder environments. The no-slip zipper also doesn’t move around when partially unzipped and goes all the way up to your chin. That’s another way the Kyanite fights against the cold
Good Comfort, Weak Ventilation
When breaking down a ski jacket, it’s important to look at all aspects of comfort. While the Kyanite definitely exceeds in some areas, it falls well short in others. The soft material is the best part of the shell. It not only keeps you warm, but it also feels great no matter how you’re wearing it. Adding to that, the elastic cuffs are tight without being too snug and the handwarmer pockets are warm and easy to access.
As great as the above aspects are, I wasn’t as impressed with the ventilation. Many fleeces go for warmth over breathability, but more than a few use special stitching to achieve both. The Kyanite does not take such steps. Rather, it’s a bit stuffy and can be prone to moisture build-up. It still works well enough in most situations, but when you’re really pushing it won’t let you breathe as easily as similar fleeces.
The Kyanite Hoody works wonderfully as a dependable mid-layer. That’s mainly due to its weight. Clocking in at 13.4 ounces, the fleece is sturdy enough to give you an extra level of protection but it’s also light enough that backcountry skiers won’t mind throwing it on for their longer excursions.
Unfortunately, I can’t give the same praise for the Kyanite’s weather resistance. The jacket doesn’t do a good job when exposed to the elements, especially the wind. The cold cuts right into the material right away. In addition, there’s no waterproofing. This soaks through immediately when exposed to moisture. It’s a solid insulation layer beneath a sturdy jacket, but definitely doesn’t stand on its own.
Versatility Through Flexibility
The Kyanite is a stretchy piece of clothing, which is something I personally love. It always helps to have layers that move with rather than against you, and this model does that on multiple fronts. The special synthetic fleece moves well and stretches in just about every way to promote greater freedom of movement.
As an added bonus, Arc’teryx outfitted the hem, cuffs, and collar with Tanica stretch fabric. That’s quite noticeable and helps you turn.
Price and Value
The Kyanite is a solid fleece that, all things considered, gives you a reasonable amount of value. It has enough durability to last through multiple seasons, especially considering its role as a mid-layer, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You’re definitely paying a bit more for the brand, but I don’t feel like you’re getting ripped off. There are many great features that make it worth the price.
What I Like
While it’s both warm and comfortable, my favorite aspect of the Kyanite is the flexibility. Movement is a big priority for me. There are many great ski clothes out there that, while reliable, restrict your movement. Being able to put on a mid-layer that doesn’t hold you back or tighten up is fantastic. The special stretch fabric works well, and I especially like how it’s integrated into the hem, collar, and cuffs.
I also want to give a special mention to the pockets. I’m a big fan of having extra storage out on the slopes, and the Kyanite does a nice job of incorporating pockets into the design. Not only are they all breathable and mesh-lined, but they sit in a way where you can quickly access them if needed. Beyond that, the overall jacket style works for me as well.
What I Dislike
I am not a huge fan of the Kyanite’s ventilation. You don’t need a ton of breathability when dealing with a mid-layer, but there are quite a few fleeces out there that do it much better. I would have liked a different stitch or something with a noticeable pattern made to let in air flow and keep the body cool. This won’t be an issue for everyone, but it’s something those who sweat or work hard should know.
The jacket also comes up short in terms of weather resistance. The durability isn’t up to snuff and the materials are particularly weak against the elements. I am not a fan of how easily the wind moves through the jacket, nor do I like how easily it gives into water. As there is no proper proofing or DWR treatment, the jacket gets soaked in wet environments right away.
There’s a lot to like about the Kyanite Hoody. However, if you want a midlayer that offers up other unique characteristics, look at these models:
- Atom LT – The Atom LT is unique in that it’s a midlayer that stands well on its own. The powerful construction ensures you’ll never be too exposed to the cold. It’s flexible as well. As with the Kyanite, this doesn’t have the best ventilation out there. Even so, skiers who ride in a lot of different terrain will love its versatility.
- Steens Mountain 2.0 – This is a soft, stylish option from one of the most well-known brands in the skiing game. It also doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, which is something everyone can enjoy. The Steens 2.0 definitely doesn’t excel in terms of durability, but it’s a perfect option for those looking for a comfortable and inexpensive model they can wear on lighter days.
- Refuge Air Hooded Jacket – The Refuge Jacket gets a special mention because of how it mixes protection, breathability, and comfort into one sleek package. This isn’t the warmest jacket on the market, but it gives you excellent ventilation and flexibility. Those traits make it an especially nice option for skiers who like to peruse the backcountry.
How many pockets does this jacket come with?
There are three. Two hand pockets with zippers as well as an internal laminated pocket.
Does the zipper stay in place?
Yes. The Kyanite features a no slip zipper that doesn’t move around as you ride. It does not have to be fully zipped to lock either.
How much does this weigh?
The Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoody comes in at 13.4 ounces. That makes it a solid midweight choice.
Overall, the Kyanite does a lot of things right. It’s comfortable, snug, and offers plenty of warmth. It doesn’t quite ever excel in any one single category, but it combines a lot of useful features together to give you something you can throw on without worry. There are plenty of pockets for additional storage and the flexibility is almost unmatched in its reliability.
I would have liked better ventilation, but that won’t be an issue for everyone. There’s a lot of versatility to be had with the item, especially for skiers who like to ride in many different conditions, and the slim, athletic cut is worth something as well. The Kyanite doesn’t stand on its own, but you’re not going to necessarily expect that from a mid-layer.
Joseph Scalise is an avid writer, editor, and snow sports enthusiast who loves to spend his time outdoors. He began his love of writing early on in life and continued to pursue it as he grew older. While his time behind the computer doesn’t get him into the wild unknown as much as he would like, he never misses a chance to head up (or down) a mountain, across a river, or through a lush forest. When he’s not planning new trips, you can always find him typing away on his next project.